Saturday, 16 June 2012

The Dorothy Clive Garden

I did say in my last post that I would be doing a series of reviews of my new camera but, despite this being my first trip out with the camera, I don't intend to say much about it.

For a relatively small country, it is a little surprising that you can so often stumble upon somewhere or something new to delight; it is probably a sign of my advancing years that gardens would probably feature prominently in my list of such places and the Dorothy Clive Garden is the latest.

J and I took the somewhat unusual decision to venture out on a Bank Holiday a couple of weeks back (mainly due to the fact that it was the only day with a decent forecast during the week) and headed out to Powis Castle as it had been a while since we had been there. On arrival, we discovered that there was a Jubilee event on and the place was heaving - not at all the quiet day out we had envisaged. So, we turned around and headed back into Staffordshire as I had made note of a couple of gardens which I thought might do as fillers. The one we settled on was the Dorothy Clive Garden and what a delight it was.

If you've not already followed the link I can tell you that the garden was designed in 1940 by a local landowner who wanted somewhere for his wife, Dorothy, to exercise as she suffered from Parkinson's disease. Sadly, she died 2 years later but he continued with his plans and set up a trust so the gardens would, instead, remain as a memorial to his wife and it is hard to think of a more beautiful tribute.

The garden is situated on a hill with the pond (above) being situated at the bottom, adjacent to the car park. There are a series of paths and lawns which take you up the hill to a point about halfway up where you find the cafe and small shop (more about this shortly). The whole garden is very peaceful but the I particularly liked the planting in this section referred to as the Hillside Garden which is comprised of a mixture of shrubs and borders with what seemed to be an incredible variety of flowers and a riot of colour.

Despite all of this colour, I was impressed by an area predominantly planted with white flowers which was surprisingly effective.

So, on to the tearoom where we enjoyed an excellent cup of coffee and shared a generous slice of orange and cranberry cake - a combination I've not come across before but it really was delicious. The tea room itself is clean and fairly spacious with an outdoor seating area at the back which is perfect for people with young children having a mini playground with the softest flooring I have ever come across. However, the best feature is the lawn at the front where you can sit and relax with wonderful views across the garden to the countryside beyond. It was here we witnessed three robins striving for territorial superiority; it made for an entertaining interlude.

The garden extends beyond the tearoom, up the hill and takes on a very different look with a gravel garden, waterfall and a mass of rhododendrons and azaleas. We caught these when they were just passed their best but they still gave a fabulous display of colour and were a magnet for bees. From the very top of the garden, there are more views across the Staffordshire countryside and a path leads you down into a secluded area where you find a laburnum arch - not as spectacular as Bodnant but very effective.

A brief note concerning the camera at this point; this image did need a bit of tweaking to bring the highlights down because the camera's meter failed to cope with the contrast. However, given the extreme dynamic range, I seriously doubt any camera would and the detail is still there to be recovered.

We spent a very enjoyable few hours wandering around the garden and would happily have stayed longer had we not had to get back home. We are already planning our next visit in July when we intent to take my Father (well, I did intimate it's an old man thing to like gardens).

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